MacBook + Exchange + Air Force = trouble?
November 8, 2007 2:09 PM   Subscribe

MacBook + Exchange + Air Force = trouble?

A friend of mine is a pilot in the Air Force. He has an HP/WinXP laptop that's dying and wants to replace it. He uses Microsoft Outlook at home and for work and has, I believe, some Windows-based, Air Force-specific apps that could be problematic. I know enough about Macs to know about Boot Camp and Parallels, but I've never used Entourage or tried to make a Mac play friendly with a Windows-centric office. Will he be in a world of hurt if he goes against the grain and gets a MacBook?

Dual boot seems an easy fix for most things. But, if he hates Entourage or can't get it to play friendly with the local IT department's Exchange server, is running Outlook via Parallels all the time an option? Or would that just be too much trouble?
posted by wheat to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
i say if he's going to be using mostly windows applications, i stay stick to windows. i have a mac running parallels, and when i realize 'oh crap i'm gonna have to run a windows application for this', i gotta boot it up, wait for a minute for it to load, then both systems run all slow...

not a HUGE hassle, just enough to be annoying. if he planned on using mostly mac apps and only the occasional window, i'd say go for it. as it sounds like the other way around, i say don't.
posted by camdan at 2:32 PM on November 8, 2007

You need a lot of memory to make parallels play nice - 2G is good, 3G is better - but you can get that much memory in a late model MacBook. If you can avoid the OS hitting swap to deal with Parallels you won't see the slowdown that camdan is reporting.
posted by ikkyu2 at 2:41 PM on November 8, 2007

From what I can tell, entourage is designed to work with exchange servers, so that at least shouldn't be a problem. For example, if someone from outside my company (we're all mac) sends me an invitation to a meeting, it will come in as an invitation and I can add it to my calendar.

I guess it really does depend on how often he has to use these air-force specific apps.

There will also probably be problems relating to resource forks and hidden files. PC users will always see a ".DS-store" file in any folder that the mac puts a file in. This solves that problem.
posted by kpmcguire at 3:08 PM on November 8, 2007

i have a black macbook with 2gb of ram running parallels all day, and i am a systems admin supporting exchange in a windows office. my macbook runs windows better than the crap dells we have.
posted by fumbducker at 3:11 PM on November 8, 2007

With "Coherence," Parallels can start a single or few Windows applications at a time and have them much more tightly integrated into the OS and less like a virtual PC. It loads Windows in the background - you don't even have to see it if you don't want to.
posted by mysterious1der at 3:54 PM on November 8, 2007

Ok, a word of advice here. You mention that your friend's office is Windows-centric. If your friend isn't in a position to figure this out by himself, perhaps he should stick with whatever hardware/software configuration is supported by his base IT group? Seriously. I know macs are cool, and they "just work", and blah blah blah, but if he's not prepared to support this himself, then he's probably setting himself up for a bigger problem at a really inopportune time.

I spent 9 years doing enterprise email support. Like many enterprise I.T. organizations, we had a "tolerate but don't support" policy on non-standard OS/client combinations. Basically, you use what we give you, or you're on your own when trying to make it work. I can't tell you how many times I had to disappoint someone who decided that they wanted to use something other than what we supported (because Micro$loth blowz, dude). When their email client of the week broke, they called me looking for help (because the Helpdesk told them to go perform an unnatural act upon themselves). Most of the time, I wasn't able to help them. This wasn't malice, or BOFH-like lack of caring, but I had enough shit to do without having to take time to learn how to do function X in some wonky email client I'd never heard of.

Bottom line - if he wants to use something other than Outlook, more power to him. He's just got to be ready to deal with the consequences himself when something goes wrong. And, from the sound of your email, it appears to me that he's not.
posted by deadmessenger at 6:15 PM on November 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

Entourage can't do MAPI connections like Outlook, so if the Exchange server doesn't support IMAP then Entourage can't connect, unless they are running standard POP and SMTP services which Exchange is usually not running since it's an Exchange server with it's own special secret sauce.

Parallels is also a good alternative. It's pretty seamless an experience. You can run a standard Windows OS, run applications and it all just works. Windows still needs antivirus and other Windows style protections but Parallels is just another application running on the machine. Like others have mentioned, max the RAM for best results.
When the HelpDesk asks what OS you're running...just tell them Windows. It's the truth.
posted by diode at 9:25 PM on November 8, 2007

Response by poster: odinsdream: there are no hardware dongles that I am aware of, nor any necessity for serial ports. A lot of what they pitch him is just training material (on CD-ROM) which shouldn't be an issue. I'll take a closer look at his Air Force-specific stuff and get back with some details.

Part of my concern is that I think he's got some mail archives (.PST files) and I've heard that porting those over to Entourage is difficult. Of course, he could use Parallels + Outlook for the mail archives and Entourage for the new stuff. Over time, the mail archives will probably be irrelevant.

diode: I'll try to find out if his Exchange connection is via MAPI. Do you think 2GB RAM is enough to run Parallels + Outlook alongside Safari or Firefox running natively on the Mac?

deadmessenger: I don't mind providing some tech support (I do already for his Windows boxes). I'm just not that knowledgeable about Macs these days. I want one myself, but I haven't owned one since the days of OS 8.
posted by wheat at 8:36 AM on November 9, 2007

Response by poster: Another note: my friend has had a lot of trouble/frustration with his Windows boxes in the past. Most of his home use of computers is very lightweight: iTunes + photos (snapshots) + web surfing + light word processing/spreadsheet work. I think he does run Quicken, so that would be another vote for Parallels. There's really no love lost between him and Windows. He's a really smart guy, but dealing with his home computers frustrates him.
posted by wheat at 8:45 AM on November 9, 2007

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